Consider the two scenarios below of two NSA triggers that might not be white-listing innocent Americans and blacklisting guilty foreigners.
A US Official is in touch with a Syrian rebel leader via email. One day, the official gets an email from a monitored email account of a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist claiming to be a friend of the Syrian rebel leader (Email stolen from him). Under the rules, the US Official’s email gets flagged for further investigation and since FISA courts have approved all 1,506 domestic warrant applications, chances are the NSA will retrieve all of the US Official’s emails and phone calls going back few years. The information is analyzed and possibly enough is stored in his file to equip some future political opponent, in a new administration, with a weapon of mass vengeance. White-listing innocent Americans and blacklisting guilty foreigners.
Likewise, consider this scenario. The Iranian regime calls American-Iranian anti-regime dissidents from an NSA-monitored telephone number in Tehran. The caller, working for the IRGC, announces he has information to send to the dissident vital to his work. He emails him a classified US document the regime had received from spies inside the Iraqi Government. The NSA flags the American-Iranian dissident and analyzes his/her past to keep handy in case some future administration believes the dissident’s work is ill advised. Instead of the Iranian regime inventing and fabricating dissidents, all it has to do is make selective phone calls to real ones to get them in trouble. White-listing innocent Americans and blacklisting guilty foreigners.
In both cases, the NSA will flag the US Official and the American-Iranian dissident whether the NSA collects and stores data or not on US citizens. The difference though, it cannot use what already exists to abuse the system the same way Ms. Lois Lerner abused her position at the IRS. That is the real issue before us.
There is no doubt, considering the terror acts of Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon, that the NSA needs a certain elasticity to do its job effectively. The balance, in my opinion, is to white-list all the data on US citizens who have no FISA outstanding warrants by permanently sealing their information and only unseal it if real-time suspicion arises from a probable cause. The pool from which real intelligence is collected becomes too small to threaten our liberties.
Delisting must meet rigid parameters to investigate the guilty ones and only FISA Courts approve the delisting based on those rigid criteria. With white-listing, the operational burden shifts unto the NSA to act in accordance with the law rather than have total accessibility using self-monitoring to abide by the law. Further, the system turns into considering everyone is innocent until proven guilty instead of everyone is available to be targeted as guilty.
Incidentally, the Obama Administration has a responsibility to tell the American people how the NSA storing trillions of records on US citizens helped catch al-Qaeda terrorists from the 1,506 monitored individuals.
Declassify and tell please.